Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, December 2021

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Topps Terry Pendleton
Topps Terry Pendleton

12/31/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #725 Terry Pendleton, Cardinals

More Terry Pendleton Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1991 1991T 1992 1993 1994 1995 1995T 1996 1997

Terry Pendleton was a good player for over a decade in MLB, and he may well be the most improbable league MVP ever. And if he isn't, he's definitely Top 5.

You see, Pendleton—St. Louis's regular 3B since 1984—was benched for the final weeks of the 1990 season, and his third base job was given to a rookie converted catcher (Todd Zeile). After the season, Pendleton hooked up with the lowly Braves—for 4Y/$10.2M, very good money back then—and walked away as the NL MVP after helping Atlanta go from last place in 1990 to Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

Before 1991, Pendleton had received exactly one point in MVP voting during his seven years in MLB. (And it was probably from a relative.) Let's just say he was nobody's preseason favorite to wrestle the award away from Barry Bonds.

Here, the 29-year-old has just wrapped his fifth full season as the Cardinals 3B. After missing 52 games in 1988, Pendleton was a near-ironman in 1989, starting all but five games and setting career highs in runs and homers. He also won his second Gold Glove on the strength of .971 fielding and 392 assists—both career highs as well!

THIS CARD: Pendleton was one of the few players of his time (teammate Willie McGee was another) to use the double-flap helmet. By the time this card was released, most switch-hitters alternated single-flap helmets. But not all.

Since Pendleton left St. Louis, the #9 has been worn by exactly zero Cardinals—it was retired for Hall-of-Famer Enos Slaughter in 1996, 43 years after Slaughter's last game with the Cards. Hey, people get busy, I suppose.

More from Pendleton's 1989 season: my Giants may have been the 1989 NL Champions, but they had no answer for Pendleton. He went 3-for-3 against them 5/5 and 4-for-5 against them 7/8, in both instances missing the cycle by just a triple. For the year, Pendleton went 19-for-43 (.442) with three jacks against San Francisco pitching! (Normally, this is where I'd call him a bastard, but I respect Pendleton too much for that.)

(flip) Why is Pendleton's 162 games played in 1989 not bold/italicized, you ask? Because fellow Cards infielder Jose Oquendo tied with Pittsburgh's Bobby Bonilla for the NL lead with 163 games played. (St. Louis played 164 official games that year, I should inform you.)

That is one of THE laziest blurbs of all time. And it's likely false. I'd bet anything Pendleton would not spend more than seven seconds blaring Bach through his speakers. And do YOU think he'd sit captivated while two toddlers banged pots together on the sidewalk?

Pendleton was that hot in September despite A) not facing the Giants, and B) only registering one three-hit game. He batted .318 for the month, and even stole four bases after swiping his other five way back in May.

AFTER THIS CARD: We covered Pendleton's 1990-91 rollercoaster ride. But we haven't yet covered Pendleton's 1992 MVP runner-up finish, which just about the entire world has forgotten about. It wasn't just the Big Three/Fab Four starting pitchers leading the 1990s Braves, people. Pendleton played no small part in Atlanta's historic turnaround.

In 1993, the 33-year-old came back down to more traditional career numbers, though he continued to supply more power than he ever had as a Cardinal. After Pendleton missed nearly 40 games in 1994 due to neck and back issues, the Braves—who had Chipper Jones waiting in the wings—chose not to re-sign him.

Enter Florida, who signed Pendleton for the comically low price of 1Y/$1.5M (with a 1996 option that was exercised). He hit .290 with 14 homers for the 1995 Marlins, but was traded back to the Braves in mid-1996. Pendleton's career ended with 50 games as a 3B/PH for the 1997 Reds, and 79 more as a part-time DH/3B for the 1998 Royals. The 1991-92 NL hits leader finished up with 1,897.

Pendleton coached for the Braves from 2001-17, before shifting to a minor league role.

Terry Pendleton appeared annually in Topps 1985-97. He's also got 1991 and 1995 Traded cards.

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals

 

More December 2021 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Luke Prokopec
Topps Luke Prokopec

12/1/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps Traded #25 Luke Prokopec, Dodgers Prospect

More Luke Prokopec Topps Cards: 2001T 2002

For the first two months of the 2001 season, Dodgers SP Luke Prokopec generated quite a bit of buzz. After eight starts—six of them quality—the 22-year-old was 6-1, 3.33 for a Dodger team sharing first place in the NL West.

Here, however, Prokopec (PROK-uh-PEK) is just a prospect entering Season #3 on the mound after beginning his pro career in the outfield. The kid was one of 1998's top California League (Class A) starters, and he only got better after being promoted to AA.

THIS CARD: Prokopec resembles a hybrid of past Dodger SP's Ismael Valdez and Rich Hill.

That's uniform #73 obscured by Prokopec's arm. There's been no Dodger to ever wear #73 during the regular season; Prokopec was issued #57 upon his 2000 promotion.

1999 Topps Traded & Rookies marked the first such Topps release since 1995. However, there was now a large emphasis on "rookies", or more accurately described, dudes from the minors who in many cases would never reach MLB. While I'm grateful to have selected Prokopec—someone who did escape the minors—in this instance, I'm not looking forward to having to spend time on his fellow "rookies" down the road.

(flip) Prokopec was one of two Australians (Jeff Williams) on the 2001 Dodgers. When both were pitching well, it gave fans "interesting" material for their signs.

For a dude with such a high K rate in the minors, Prokopec 5.9 rate in the majors was unexpected, to put it nicely. Minor leaguers are minor leaguers for a reason, though.

As an outfielder, Prokopec batted .227 with eight home runs in 186 games 1995-97. He was definitely NOT going to reach the bigs without converting to pitcher.

AFTER THIS CARD: After Prokopec held his own in five late-2000 appearances, he enjoyed that aforementioned early-2001 success before hitting a wall and losing his rotation spot. The Dodgers traded him (and a failed prospect) to Toronto in exchange for Cesar Izturis and Paul Quantrill—one of the decade's major fleecings that nobody talks about anymore.

Prokopec was not effective at all for the 2002 Blue Jays, and underwent surgery for a torn labrum that September. After trials in the Dodgers and Reds systems 2003-04, his pro career petered out.

Luke Prokopec appeared in 1999 and 2001 Topps Traded & Rookies, then closed his Topps run in the 2002 set.

CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps Traded, Los Angeles Dodgers

 
Topps Todd Helton
Topps Todd Helton

12/2/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #195 Todd Helton, Rockies

More Todd Helton Topps Cards: 1996 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

Remember Don Mattingly's career? For six years straight he was one of the very best baseball players alive; a future Hall-of-Fame induction seemed a mere formality. But then back problems turned Mattingly into, well, just another guy for his final six years and he never came even remotely close to getting that bust in Cooperstown.

In many ways, Todd Helton's career matched Mattingly's step for step (except Colorado had the sense to make him a full-timer almost instantly). From 1999-2004, Helton put up some spectacular numbers—much like Mattingly. Then physical problems slowed Helton down (like Mattingly) and he was ordinary for most of his final years (like Mattingly).

However, UNLIKE Mattingly, Helton's HOF vote percentage has increased every year. At 45% in 2021, don't be surprised to see Helton join longtime teammate Larry Walker as the only Rockies in the Hall.
Here, Helton is fresh off his age-34 season. Though his once-prolific power remained on the decline, he still had a quality 2007 season—capped off by completing Eric Byrnes' (of Arizona) 6-3 groundout to send Colorado to their first ever World Series!

THIS CARD: For the second straight month, a 2008 Topps card is our second selection. Which is fine by me, since 2008 Topps happens to be one of my 10 favorite Topps sets ever.

That signature can only be described as elegant and beautiful. Helton's got Hall-of-Fame penmanship if nothing else.

More from Helton's 2007 season: though no longer the focal point of the Colorado lineup, he led the team in walks (by 35) and OBP (.434). On 7/4, Helton somehow drove in five runs despite just one hit (which was a double). And on 9/16, his 300th career bomb (off the famed Mauro Zarate) keyed a 13-0 blowout of the Marlins.

(flip) It says a lot about me that at age 41, I still immaturely reacted to the word "erect".

In his final six seasons, Helton was only able to eclipse 35 doubles once (2009, 38). His 592 lifetime two-baggers rank 20th all-time.

This is something of an error card, since none of Helton's many league-leading stats from 2000 are bold/italicized. On Helton's 2007 and 2009 Topps cards, the stats WERE bold/italicized; no idea what happened here.

AFTER THIS CARD: Helton lost half of 2008 with an ailing back, but then bounced back with a .320 season to help the '09 Rockies back to the postseason. Continued problems with his back cut into Helton's 2010-11 seasons, then hip surgery helped limit him to .238 in 69 games in 2012.

Helton retired after a 2013 season spent sharing time at first base (with Jordan Pacheco); he finished up with a .316 average, 2,519 hits, 369 homers and 1,406 RBI over 17 seasons...all with the Rox.

Todd Helton debuted with a Draft Pick card in 1996 Topps, then appeared annually in the base set 1998-2014 (yes, he got a Sunset card!)

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Colorado Rockies

 
Topps Bobby Meacham
Topps Bobby Meacham

12/3/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #436 Bobby Meacham, Yankees

More Bobby Meacham Topps Cards: 1987 1988

I didn't get into MLB until after Bobby Meacham's playing career ended. And though I've since caught him in action via classic broadcasts on MLB Network and YouTube—most notably as part of HOF catcher Carlton Fisk's double-tag blooper/highlight—my lasting Meacham memory comes from his days coaching first base for the Padres.

You see, when combustible Padres OF Milton Bradley began his infamous argument with umpire Mike Winters late in the 2007 season—the one that ended with him wrecking his knee—coach Meacham was the first to try and get Bradley under control, which to this day no one has proven capable of doing. Then Meacham barked at Winters (who was later found to be the instigator) a bit before giving way to manager Bud Black. An all-round ugly scene.

Here, Meacham is fresh off his sixth season with the Yankees, though he wasn't all that visible this time around after a pinched nerve in his neck ended his season in July. Once New York's full-time SS, the 28-year-old started just 29 games (across three positions) in 1988.

THIS CARD: The timing of this pic makes it appear Meacham is reacting to a ball heading toward him. In every Meacham batting clip I've seen, he used an exaggerated crouch, so he's likely shown here waiting for the pitcher to finish cleaning his spikes, spitting, grabbing himself, or all of the above.

Even though every major company's Meacham cards (except 1984 Donruss) list him as "Bobby", Meacham's BR page lists him as "Bob". Which I'm irrationally annoyed by.

More from Meacham's 1988 season: he was used exclusively as a backup by managers Billy Martin and Lou Piniella, completing his long/short fall from grace. Meacham did have three hits, including two doubles, on 4/12.

(flip) Of those seven steals in 1988, three came in consecutive games 5/29 thru 5/31.

For his career, Meacham hit .196 (11-for-56) with zero homers at Old Comiskey Park, so he must have liked it for other reasons. Perhaps it had an extra-roomy visitor's locker room.

That one July hit was a double off Kansas City's Mark Gubicza 7/8, one of only four hits Gubicza surrendered in a shutout victory over the Yankees. Said double was the final hit of Meacham's MLB career, as it turned out...

AFTER THIS CARD: After years of inconsistency and criticism from Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, Meacham was dealt to the Rangers in December 1988 (with OF Bob Brower as the return). Having failed to make the Texas roster in Spring 1989, Meacham was signed by the Pirates and spent the year as AAA depth. The Royals inked Meacham for 1990, but once again he did not escape AAA. That spelled the end of the line for Meacham the player.

Meacham the coach/MiLB manager, however, has enjoyed a long and fruitful baseball life. He's been with too many teams to list here, but I can tell you he's currently a member of Joe Girardi's staff with the Phillies.

Bobby Meacham appeared in 1984-89 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, New York Yankees

 
Topps LaMarr Hoyt
Topps LaMarr Hoyt

12/4/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #275 LaMarr Hoyt, Padres

More LaMarr Hoyt Topps Cards: n/a

Late-blooming LaMarr Hoyt overcame a less-than-ideal upbringing to become one of MLB's most successful righties over the first half of the 1980's. Originally a Yankees 5th-rounder in 1973, Hoyt joined the White Sox in a mid-1977 trade for SS Bucky Dent. While Dent helped the Yankees win two World Series, Hoyt leading Chicago to the 1983 ALCS was nearly as significant for that long-mediocre franchise.

After going 18-6 as a White Sox swingman in 1980-81, Hoyt became a full-time starter in '82 and won a league-high 19 times. Proving he was legit, Hoyt won 24 of his 36 starts in 1983 and earned 17 of 28 first-place votes in a successful bid for the AL Cy Young Award! He also earned a 6Y/$6M deal in March 1984, big bucks for the times.

The burly Hoyt slipped to 13-18 in 1984 and found himself packaged in a trade to the Padres that December. Here, after a strong bounceback 1985 campaign, Hoyt has closed the book on a challenging 1986. He spent much of the Spring in a drug rehab center, then dealt with a bum shoulder as the season commenced. In and out of the rotation all year, the 31-year-old was not very effective outside of a nine-start stretch from 6/28 to 8/12 during which he went 4-4, 3.03.

THIS CARD: TSR has the inside story behind this pic...

 

Topps Photographer: "Mr. Hoyt, we'd like to take your photo for 1987 Topps. Can you go over there and look towards me like you're trying to remember where you know me from?"

Hoyt: "Where DO I know you from?"

Photographer: "Perfect!"

We present this card in memory of Hoyt, who died 11/29/2021 of cancer at age 66. Like so many deceased players of the past seven years, I only have a 1987 Topps card of Hoyt to present here in COTD.

More from Hoyt's 1986 season: in one start (9/13 vs. Houston) he was yanked after throwing 13 straight balls to open the game—walking three batters and hitting another in what turned out to be his final big league start. But a highlight was Hoyt's five-hitter over the Cubs 7/3; in that game he walked exactly zero. Baseball is cruel sometimes.

(flip) Dewey is actually LaMarr's given first name too. He remains the only Caucasian I've ever heard of with a name beginning with "La".

That Trade (With The White Sox) sent Hoyt and two failed prospects to San Diego in exchange for SP Tim Lollar, RP Bill Long, UT Luis Salazar, and a SS prospect by the name of Ozzie Guillen.

Murray was in his third MLB season in 1979, and he'd end his career in 1997 having switch-homered in 11 games (4th all-time according to CBSSports.com).

AFTER THIS CARD: The ESPN article reporting Hoyt's death merely states he retired after 1986, but it wasn't that simple. Hoyt continued to have drug-related legal problems and was suspended for the 1987 season (in addition to being waived by the Padres).

 

The White Sox took a flier on their former ace in July 1987, but after Hoyt's drug issues sprouted up again that December (and eventually earned him a year in prison), he was again let go. There'd be no further pro baseball offers, although he was able to keep the remaining $3M on his contract—much to the Padres' chagrin.

LaMarr Hoyt appeared in 1981-87 Topps, as well as 1985 Topps Traded.

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, San Diego Padres, Now Deceased

 
Topps Philadelphia Phillies
Topps Philadelphia Phillies

12/5/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #339 Philadelphia Phillies Team Card

More Topps Phillies Team Cards: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2010 2011 2015 2016 2017 2019 2020 2021

After finishing 71-91 and in 4th place in 2016, former superstar Ryan Howard's contract came off the Phillies' books at long last and they entered full rebuilding mode in 2017. The result? A last-place finish in the NL East—their third in the previous four seasons.

Philly won on Opening Day 2017 and was actually 11-9 at one point, as the hot bat of journeyman Daniel Nava—who was barely clinging on to his MLB career entering 2017—was an early talking point. But it was all downhill from there, though young SP Aaron Nola enjoyed a very strong second half after a shaky start to the year.

25-year-old Tommy Joseph batted .240 with 22 homers as Howard's replacement at 1B. RP Hector Neris developed into a decent closer with 26 saves in 33 chances. But Philadelphia's biggest story was slugging OF Rhys Hoskins, who belted 18 homers in 50 games after being called up in early August. Despite less than two months in the majors, Hoskins placed 4th in NL Rookie of the Year voting!

THIS CARD: I think I can identify TWO of these Phillies...I think it's Nola on the far left and C Cameron Rupp on the far right. But no prison bets.

Most Topps Team Cards from this era depict team members in some type of celebration, or at the very least doing something exciting. The 2017 Phillies had so little to celebrate, or get excited about, that we're left with a pic of dudes watching Pete Mackanin change pitchers or something.

More from Philadelphia's 2017 season: they also finished strong, winning five of their final seven games including an 11-0 thrashing of the Mets in the season finale. On 9/10, rookie Ben Lively threw the Phillies' first and only CG of the year, going eight innings in a 3-2 road loss to Washington. And also in that 10/1 season finale, SS Freddy Galvis became the first Phillie since Howard in 2008 to play every game.

(flip) Lively and Hoskins were among those 15 debuting Phillies, with 23-year-old OF Nick Williams showing promise. Highly-touted SS J.P. Crawford also premiered in 2017, as did P Mark Leiter Jr., whose dad and uncle Al combined for 30 major league seasons.

That 29-58 first half featured a god-awful June stretch of 13 losses in 14 games—which strangely ran almost perfectly parallel to a 14-game Joseph hit streak. Among the L's were five extra-inning defeats (including consecutive walk-off losses to Boston), one of which saw St. Louis scoring seven against the Phillies in the 11th inning 6/20.

"The pitching wasn't deep" is a nice way of saying the pitching wasn't quality (4.55 ERA, 221 homers allowed). Of the 15 Phillies to throw 40+ innings in 2017, only four (Nola and Neris plus RP's Pat Neshek and Luis Garcia) managed ERA's under 3.60.

AFTER THIS CARD: After the 2017 season, Mackanin was replaced as manager by Gabe Kapler, but despite additions such as Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Jake Arrieta, J.T. Realmuto and Carlos Santana, the Phillies went 161-163 in 2018-19 and Kapler was replaced by ex-Yankees skipper Joe Girardi. After a 28-32 finish in 2020, the 2021 Phillies led the NL East as late as 8/14 and were neck-and-neck with Atlanta entering the final week.

But they had to settle for a second-place, 82-80 finish, marking Philadelphia's first winning season since 2011. With Harper under contract through 2031, the club will at least be entertaining even if not successful.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies

 
Topps Magglio Ordonez
Topps Magglio Ordonez

12/6/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #540 Magglio Ordonez, White Sox

More Magglio Ordonez Topps Cards: 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

In October 2006, I was asked to help a buddy move. I agreed, even though it meant I'd likely miss Game 4 of the ALCS between Oakland (who I was sorta pulling for with my Giants out of it) and Detroit.

As it turned out, we finished the move a little faster than expected, and we headed to a local bar and grill for nourishment. And they were airing the ALCS!

I arrived just in time to witness the A's absorb one of the most crushing losses in their franchise history. They entered the B9th tied at 3, but CL Huston Street—for a rare time during his A's career—was not effective; after a pair of two-out hits, Tigers OF Magglio Ordonez crushed a homer that initially looked destined for one of the Great Lakes. 
So special was the blast, it ended up in the classic MLB Network commercial comprised of the most magical moments in league history.

Here, however, Ordonez is still a member of the White Sox and has just wrapped his sixth full season with the team. His 2003 numbers dipped a bit from his insane 2002 totals, but overall it was another productive year for Ordonez, who led the Sox in hits and doubles in 2003.

THIS CARD: All but a handful of Ordonez's 158 starts in 2003 came as Chicago's cleanup hitter. It's not often that a team's cleanup hitter could plate 99 runners and still face scrutiny, but that's what happens when you average 120 RBI the previous four years.

Ordonez never wore any other number besides #30 in the majors. Other notable White Sox #30's include Tim Raines in the early 1990's and...uh...David Robertson last decade? OF Jake Burger wore it in 2021.

More from Ordonez's 2003 season: he enjoyed an 18-game hit streak in April, and batted .641 (25-for-39) from 7/20 to 7/30! Ordonez also registered three multi-homer games in 2003.

(flip) Ordonez with short hair, as he appears here, seems so OFF now. Maybe because I've seen so many replays of the aforementioned walk-off homer when his locks were flowing.

Six weeks "working out" with Rodriguez...insert your joke here.

Ordonez was also an All-Star in 1999-2001. He'd later be selected to the 2006-07 Classics.

AFTER THIS CARD: Ordonez, who was nearly traded in a three-team megadeal involving Rodriguez in the fall of 2003, underwent two knee operations and missed ⅔ of 2004. Still, Detroit signed the free agent for 5Y/$75M that winter—only to watch him miss half of 2005 (hernia). Following the two interrupted campaigns, Ordonez returned to form in 2006 (.298, 24, 104), a major reason behind the Tigers' charge to the World Series (which they lost to St. Louis).

 

The 33-year-old was even better in 2007 (AL-high .363, 28, 139) and finished as AL MVP runner-up to Rodriguez. Following a solid 2008 season, Ordonez spent his final three seasons struggling just to stay on the field due to performance (2009, 2011) and ankle (2010-11) issues, and ultimately retired in June 2012 just shy of 38.

Magglio Ordonez appeared annually in Topps 1998-2011.

CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Chicago White Sox

 
Topps Lloyd Moseby
Topps Lloyd Moseby

12/7/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #779 Lloyd Moseby, Blue Jays

More Lloyd Moseby Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1991

A couple of years ago, an independent league (or possibly an affiliated minor league; I forget) experimented with a rule allowing the batter to steal first base on pitches not caught cleanly by the catcher.

Steal first base? Lloyd Moseby was doing that back in the 1980's!

Moseby's infamous "steal" of first base (which you can see here) in 1987 is one of the funniest things you'll ever see on the diamond, but it belies what a solid player he was for several good Blue Jays teams. The Arkansas native did a little, and sometimes a lot, of everything you'd want from a ballplayer. Plus, he was durable and fun to watch when motoring on the basepaths or in center field.

Here, Moseby has just wrapped his 10th and final season with the Jays—as a player, anyway. He and the team hoped his tough1988 season was an aberration, but Moseby's production remained down in 1989 as his chronic back woes persisted. He still led Toronto in steals (24) and HBP (6).

THIS CARD: As this photo may indicate, Moseby put his all behind most swings. He'd do well in this all-or-nothing, launch-angle era of baseball.

I cannot identify the road ballpark, but I can tell you Moseby slashed .254/.317/.393 away from Exhibition Stadium and Skydome in 1989. Which may not impress you at all, until you realize he slashed .180/.293/.293 AT Exhibition Stadium and Skydome in 1989. Maybe all the construction noise from Skydome's finishing touches screwed Moseby up; he'd always been a solid road hitter in the past.

More from Moseby's 1989 season: on Opening Day, he tripled and scored what ended up as the winning run against Kansas City. He then went 7-for-14 in a sweep of the White Sox in May. And against Seattle 7/22, Moseby notched five RBI—four via a late grand slam off RP Dennis Powell!

(flip) Of those 11 homers in 1989, three led off games. Another broke a 6-6 tie in the B8th and led to victory over Cleveland.

Those 255 career steals still rank first in Jays history, by 49 over Roberto Alomar and about a gazillion over everybody else.

Moseby was the Opening Day CF in each of those seasons except 1988, when he slid over to LF. He batted a composite 10-for-36 (.278) with five runs as an Opening Day Blue Jay.

AFTER THIS CARD: Feeling the Skydome turf was detrimental to his back, Moseby sought a new home after the 1989 season and landed with Detroit for 2Y/$3M in December 1989 (this is actually the 32-year anniversary of the deal). His numbers did improve during Year One as a Tiger, but didn't approach those from his glory period; by season's end rookie Milt Cuyler was starting in CF. 

Separate heel (April) and knee (August) injuries limited Moseby to 74 games in 1991, a year he moved to LF exclusively. The 32-year-old went unsigned by MLB that winter and ended his pro career with two seasons in Japan. 

Moseby served as Toronto's first base coach in 1998-99 and at last check served as an ambassador for the club. He was also elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018...not bad for a guy who didn't take up baseball until sophomore year in high school! (Thank you, Boys Life Magazine.)

Lloyd Moseby appeared in 1981-91 Topps, as well as 1990 Topps Traded.

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays

 
Topps Ron Blazier
Topps Jay Witasick

12/8/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #492 Prospects

More 1997 Topps Prospect Cards: #206

Jimmy Anderson spent three seasons as a regular—if mediocre—starter for the early-00's Pirates. True, they didn't really have anyone better, but the fact they turned to Anderson over 80 times 2000-02 has to count for something, right?

 

Reliever Ron Blazier chewed up 92 innings for the 1996-97 Phillies, with highlights such as...getting to meet Terry Francona.

And Jay Witasick lasted over a decade in the majors pitching in about every conceivable role except opener, which hadn't been "invented" yet. He pitched in a pair of World Series and once shut out the Orioles on 137 pitches.

Together...they were 1997 Topps Prospects.

THIS CARD: This is not a random selection; we're presenting it in memory of Blazier, who passed away 12/4/2021 at 50. As of this writing, there's been no cause of death announced.

This is the only time I've ever seen Witasick referred to as "Gerald" anywhere, whether printed or vocally. Fortunately, Topps went with the widely-used "Jay" going forward, which the company doesn't always do.

Didn't Phillies #21 belong to Carlos Ruiz later on? (The answer is no, Ruiz wore #51). Numerous journeymen veterans have donned #21 while passing through; SP Vince Velaszuez had it the past three seasons.

(flip) Pretty sure this is the only subset specifically referring to pitchers as "starters". I'm too lazy right now to confirm whether relievers got the same treatment.

Both Blazier and Witasick reached MLB in 1996, but Anderson didn't debut in the bigs until 1999.

"Draft: Phillies 1995 As Free Agent..." Typically, "Draft" would have been replaced with "Signed".

Interesting how Witasick is listed as an SP even though 25 of his 31 1996 MiLB appearances came out of the bullpen.

AFTER THIS CARD: As stated, Anderson reached the majors in 1999, became a regular Pirates starter 2000-02 (going 22-41, 5.24 in 85 starts), and suited up briefly for the Reds, Cubs and Red Sox before fading away in 2004.

Blazier posted no saves and a 5.38 ERA in his 63 appearances with the Phillies 1996-97. He missed the 1998 season after elbow surgery, struggled in Baltimore's low minors in 1999, then was gone from pro ball.

Witasick got coffee sips with Oakland 1996-98 before emerging as a full-time starter with the 1999 Royals. After some shuffling—including stops with the '01 Yankees and '02 Giants, both league champions—and a return to full-time relief, Witasick stuck with the 2003-04 Padres. He then enjoyed a very solid 2005 with the Rockies and Athletics, but lost the majority of 2006 to a sprained ankle. Witasick's career ended at age 35 one year later.

CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Subsets, Now Deceased

 
Topps Joel Peralta
Topps Joel Peralta

12/9/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps Update #125 Joel Peralta, Rays

More Joel Peralta Topps Cards: 2012U 2013U 2014

The 2008 Rays lost the World Series, but made three of the next five postseasons under inimitable manager Joe Maddon. One of the bullpen arms Maddon leaned on during those early-10's October battles was the late-bloomer Joel Peralta.

Peralta, who did not pitch in pro ball until age 24, enjoyed a solid early-00's run closing games in the Angels farm system; they finally summoned him to the bigs in 2005, age 29 (though MLB didn't know that at the time; see below). From there, Peralta made 166 appearances for the late-00's Royals (who acquired him off waivers from the Angels in December 2005) before stints with the 2009 Rockies and 2010 Nationals.

Here, Peralta has embarked on his first season with Tampa Bay, who signed him for 1Y/$950K following his impressive 2010 performance. Out of the gate, Peralta shined as a 2011 Ray, registering a 2.19 ERA and just three walks in the month of April.

THIS CARD: According to GettyImages.com, this is Peralta on 4/18/2011 against the White Sox. He pitched the T9th of a 5-0 win, retiring 3B Mark Teahen on a grounder to end it. John Jaso is the Rays catcher shown.

For the sake of accuracy, it's pronounced JO-EL as in Embiid of the NBA, not Joal as in Billy the singer.

More from Peralta's 2010 and early 2011 season: he opened 2010 as closer for AAA Syracuse, and was up to 20 saves when Washington recalled him in late June. His 0.796 WHIP was absurdly lower than any other Nat and his 5.44 K/9 edged out phenom Stephen Strasburg for the team lead as well. Through the first two months of 2011, Peralta had been touched for just one home run and a .174 BAA in 27.2 innings!

(flip) I respect Maddon, but it's hard to picture him sitting around with Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton calling Peralta (of the then-lowly Royals) "The Champion" unless a layer of sarcasm was caked on.

My birthday buddy! And for a time, we had the exact same birthday—until Peralta was revealed to be four years older than he claimed.

Peralta was originally signed by Oakland, but was cut two years later having not thrown a pitch for the organization. This is because he was originally an infielder, one who never made it out of the team's Dominican program. (Which I'll pretend I knew existed.)

AFTER THIS CARD: Over the 2012-14 seasons, Peralta made 225 more appearances for the Rays, most of which were quality—he even led the league with 80 in 2013! After the '12 season, Peralta inked a 2Y/$6M deal with club options through 2017, but after the '14 season Tampa traded Peralta to the Dodgers essentially for squat.

Now 39, the veteran reliever would only make 64 more MLB appearances from that point. About half came with the 2015 Dodgers, who saw him miss a chunk of time with a neck injury and declined his 2016 option. Next, Peralta joined Seattle on a MiLB deal, was cut, then hooked up with the eventual World Champion Cubs for the final five games of his career.

Joel Peralta appeared in 2011-13 Topps Update, as well as 2014 Topps (all as a Ray). If you're interested in Peralta the Royal, Upper Deck can help.

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays

 
Topps Steve Karsay
Topps Steve Karsay

12/10/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #361 Steve Karsay, Indians

More Steve Karsay Topps Cards: 1994 1995 1998 2001 2002 2003 2004

If you visited BaseballReference.com around the 20-year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, you might have noticed Steve Karsay was "trending". This is because he is the pitcher who served up Mike Piazza's infamous home run in New York's first game since the attacks (a game Karsay was later ejected from).

Here, however, Karsay has just completed his second season (1999) with the Cleveland Indians, who pilfered him in a trade with Oakland after the 1997 season. Following a forgettable 1998 campaign, Karsay—formerly a very promising starting pitcher—became a valuable asset to the Indians bullpen in '99. His 10 wins set a career high and he earned his first career save 6/13.

THIS CARD: We see Karsay attacking with either his mid-90's fastball, or possibly his tough curve or changeup. He also added a splitter in 1999.

Karsay was 4-1, 1.80 in 26 games at Jacobs Field in 1999, despite the fact his WHIP was almost 0.2 points higher there than on the road.

More from Karsay's 1999 season: he made three starts in August, going five innings and winning each of the first two before his luck ran out in the third. Karsay earned his first win of the year with 5.1 strong relief innings at Minnesota 4/10.

(flip) You probably know Karsay missed that 1995 season after reconstructive elbow surgery. He did pitch in 1996...but only in the minors.

That Trade sent RP Mike Fetters to Oakland. Remember, Oakland acquired Karsay from Toronto in the 1993 Rickey Henderson trade and for a time, considered him untouchable...only to later swap him for a past-his-prime reliever they'd sell to Anaheim eight months later. It's a results business, people.

"Reinvented" would have been a better word choice than "reincarnated", unless something happened on that operating table we don't know about.

AFTER THIS CARD: Karsay spent most of 2000 as Cleveland's closer, until deadline acquisition Bob Wickman took over the role. Off to a brilliant start in 2001, Karsay was acquired by the Braves that June, and saved seven games in addition to becoming a footnote to the Piazza blast.

 

Karsay then inked a 4Y/$22.25M deal with the Yankees to set up for Mariano Rivera; he even saved 12 games in 2002 while subbing for the disabled Rivera. Sadly, that would be it for Karsay as a productive and healthy major leaguer. He missed all of 2003 after rotator cuff surgery, and only appeared in 36 big league games going forward.

 

The final nine came with Oakland, who rescued Karsay from AAA Buffalo (Indians) in May 2006 to provide much-needed relief depth. However, the veteran already had retirement on his mind, and stepped away a month later. More recently, Karsay has worked as bullpen coach for the Brewers.

 

Here is an interesting piece on Karsay's connection to the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

Steve Karsay appeared in 1994, 1995 and 1998 Topps as an Athletic, then made the 2000-04 sets as an Indian/Yankee.

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Cleveland Indians

 
Topps Paulo Orlando
Topps Paulo Orlando

12/11/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps Update #196 Paulo Orlando, Royals

More Paulo Orlando Topps Cards: 2012U 2013U 2014

The 2014 Royals fell just short of winning the World Series, but were able to go all the way in 2015 having added 29-year-old rookie Paulo Orlando to their roster.

Okay—Orlando wasn't quite the difference-maker I'm implying, but he was a valuable part-time player for Kansas City that year, starting 63 games across all three outfield spots and serving as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement throughout the 2015 postseason.

THIS CARD: Boy, KC didn't waste any time moving on from Billy Butler, did they? The popular longtime Royal left as a free agent after the '14 season and BOOM! A rookie gets his number the next spring. (And it's not like the Royals have a bunch of numbers retired and unavailable, either.)

Fitting we see Orlando swinging the bat here; the man DID NOT take many pitches. In fact, he drew exactly five walks in 86 games during the 2015 season—and only one after 4/21! Butler could draw five walks in a weekend.

More from Orlando's early 2015 season: he made the Royals' Opening Day Roster after going 15-for-47 (.319) with nine RBI during Spring Training, and was with the Royals all year save for a June exile to AAA Omaha. He hit his first MLB home run 5/26, off Adam Warren of the Yankees.

(flip) Orlando finished up 2015 with six triples, tied for second on the Royals behind Omar Infante's seven.

SP/RP Andre Rienzo and C Yan Gomes were the first two Brazilian big leaguers. While the former flamed out of MLB after parts of three seasons (2013-15), the latter has enjoyed a long, solid career including a 2018 All-Star berth and a 2019 World Series ring.

Often times, if a speedy athlete without a lengthy baseball background reaches MLB, he has a hard time using that speed properly on the bases. But Orlando seemed to be an exception, at least statistically—his MiLB stolen base percentages were usually high, and included a 34-for-43 effort for 2014 Omaha.

AFTER THIS CARD: Orlando wound up starting 115 games for the 2016 Royals, most of that in RF after Jarrod Dyson opened the year on the DL (oblique). Orlando finished up with a .302 average and 14 steals in 457 AB, and seemed set to stick around Kansas City for the foreseeable future.

But an early 2017 slump led to a demotion to AAA; there, Orlando injured his shin and didn't return to the Royals until September. The Royals kept Orlando on the Omaha/KC shuttle for all of 2018, and that winter he signed with the Dodgers. In May 2019, the Dodgers sold him to the White Sox, who cut him three months later. 

At last check (2021), Orlando was playing for the American Association of Professional Baseball, a 16-year-old independent league.

Paulo Orlando debuted in 2015 Topps Update, then appeared in 2016-17 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps Update, Kansas City Royals

 
Topps Jesus Sucre
Topps Jesus Sucre

12/13/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #TB-12 Jesus Sucre, Rays

More Jesus Sucre Topps Cards: 2019U

I will begin this profile of Jesus Sucre with a sentence that has never been spoken before in human history:

Except for the one year he batted .480, he wasn't much of a hitter.

Even as a Braves prospect, Sucre usually put up uninspiring offensive numbers, but MAN could the guy throw. Sucre routinely erased around 40% or more of enemy basestealers in the minors, maxing out at a ridiculous 52% in 2011. During that season, however, Atlanta released Sucre, and he joined the Mariners organization a few days later. By 2013, he'd finally reached MLB.

Here, after four seasons up-and-down with the Mariners, Sucre has completed a 2017 season spent entirely with the Rays. Backing up Derek Norris, and then Wilson Ramos, Sucre destroyed almost all of his previous MLB career highs and even made his second career pitching appearance on 7/31!

THIS CARD: Topps didn't include Sucre in its 2018 base or Update set, but he does turn up in Topps Rays Factory Team Set. For a time, I chose to include such cards in the COTD database (we've presented a couple in the past) but it became a bit too strenuous and cost-ineffective to pursue them.

Obviously, this pic was taken at the Oakland Coliseum; thanks to GettyImages.com, we are able to determine the date as well—July 7, 2017, B5th. Tampa won 3-2 that night, with Sucre going 1-for-3 with a double. No Athletic attempted to steal; they didn't run much anyway and certainly weren't going to try with someone like Sucre behind the plate.

More from Sucre's 2017 season: he allowed three runs on two hits and two walks in his pitching appearance at Houston. On 4/9, he homered and drove in three in a victory over Toronto. And on 9/17, his B6th homer off Boston's Eduardo Rodriguez held up as the game-winner!

(flip) The Topps Factory Team Sets omitted individual player Twitter/Instagram handles, so I'll tell you Sucre can be found @sucre2_ on Instagram.

Defense better have meant a lot to Sucre, because with all due respect, his offense alone wasn't enough to keep him in MLB. For his career, he erased 39 of 119 attempted basestealers (33%) and committed only seven errors. He could attack bunts well and called a good game, as evidenced by Hisashi Iwakuma's 2015 no-hitter (for Seattle) with Sucre behind the plate.

AFTER THIS CARD: Remember in late 2018 when Yankees SP CC Sabathia willingly sacrificed a contract bonus to retaliate for teammates drilled by Rays pitching, knowing he'd be ejected? Sucre was the batter Sabathia hit to earn said ejection; the pitch hit Sucre down low and he calmly took his base.

Unfortunately, Sucre reaching base was not a common enough sighting during that 2018 campaign (.209/.247/.253 in 73 games) and the Rays let him go that winter. The almost-31-year-old made Baltimore's roster out of 2019 Spring Training, but was outrighted off said roster a month later and has not resurfaced in MLB. At last check (2021), Sucre was employed by the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Jesus Sucre appeared in this 2018 Topps Factory Team Set, as well as 2019 Topps Update as a new Oriole.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, Tampa Bay Rays

 
Topps Enrique Wilson
Topps Enrique Wilson

12/14/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #448 Enrique Wilson, Indians

More Enrique Wilson Topps Cards: 1996 1997 2000 2001 2001T

I saw a lot of Enrique Wilson in action, as his Indians made regular appearances in the postseason during the late 1990's. However, what I truly remember him for is rollin' with ex-teammate Manny Ramirez to the bar one night in 2003...not long after Ramirez asked out of the Red Sox lineup due to alleged illness.

Wilson, a solid veteran infielder but nowhere near Ramirez's class as a player, gained more headlines that night than he did for everything else he accomplished on the field combined. I'm not sure if that was a positive for Wilson overall, but hopefully he and Man-Ram had fun at least.

Here, Wilson is coming off his first taste of major league action. After the young SS joined the Tribe in late September 1997, manager Mike Hargrove started Wilson in three of Cleveland's final five games of 1997—two at SS, one at 2B—and watched the kid register five hits in 13 at-bats (.385).

THIS CARD: You don't see many images like this in modern Topps sets—pregame stuff such as stretching, autograph signing, and warming up have gone the way of the Montreal Expos. But 1998 Topps is full of interesting, unconventional images (some could even be described as wacky) such as Wilson's, which is largely why it remains one of my favorite sets ever.

Wilson had appeared in 1996-97 Topps on shared Prospects cards and probably could have been stashed on one here as well, considering he played just five games with the 1997 Indians. But the company obviously felt he was ready to go solo. Expos SS Orlando Cabrera also received a solo card in this set, only to resume sharing a Prospects card in 1999 Topps—a true rarity.

More from Wilson's 1997 season: he debuted 9/24 and singled off future teammate Dwight Gooden of the Yankees for his first MLB hit. The next night, Wilson's 7th-inning RBI single tied the score, though Cleveland lost in 10 innings. In fact, the Indians lost all three of Wilson's starts, but kept him on the Postseason roster anyway.

(flip) Wilson looks like he's hiding a hot dog in his mitt, or pretending said mitt is a microphone.

It was said Wilson would be the frontrunner for Cleveland's 2B job in 1998 (no way Tony Fernandez was coming back after his World Series goof). And while Wilson did start on Opening Day 1998, David Bell wound up receiving the bulk of playing time at the position, with Joey Cora coming over in an August 1998 trade.

Cleveland absolutely stole Wilson from Minnesota in a trade for pitching prospect Shawn Bryant, who never made it to MLB.

AFTER THIS CARD: Remember that time, in Game 2 of the 1998 ALCS, when Yankees 2B Chuck Knoblauch argued with an umpire while the go-ahead run scored in front of him? It was Wilson who stumbled his way home, although New York still won the series in six games.

In 1999, Wilson found himself playing extensive third base for the first time, as the Indians brought in Roberto Alomar to handle second base. Wilson got in 113 games that year (78 starts) and batted .262 with two homers. Despite batting .325 in 40 games with the 2000 Indians, Wilson was dealt to the Pirates in a Deadline deal for OF/1B Wil Cordero.

The Yankees acquired Wilson about a year later; by this time his chances of becoming a big league regular had faded, and he settled in as a utility infielder for New York through 2004—a tough year  for Wilson physically as he twisted his ankle in Spring Training, bruised his shoulder on a dive in August, strained his groin in June, and fouled a ball off his own head in July.
Next, the 32-year-old went 3-for-22 for the 2005 Cubs, then ended his pro career with 63 games for AAA Pawtucket (Red Sox) in 2006.

Enrique Wilson appeared on shared Prospects cards in 1996-97 Topps, then made solo appearances in 1998, 2000 and 2001 Topps. He's also got a 2001 Traded card as a new Yankee.

CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Cleveland Indians

 
Topps Brad Penny
Topps Brad Penny

12/15/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #142 Brad Penny, Dodgers 

More Brad Penny Topps Cards: 1998 1999 2001 2002 2003 2004 2004T 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009U 2010 2010U 2011U

Brad Penny had some good years as a Dodger, and was an ornery sort between the lines—to this day I've never seen him smile or heard him joke. Armed with those facts, you'd surely believe ol' Giants fan Skillz didn't care much for Penny.

And you'd be right...were it not for the half-season Penny spent absolutely dealing for the Giants when they desperately needed him to. With SP Randy Johnson sidelined with a shoulder injury, young SP Madison Bumgarner not yet established, and lefty starters Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito unpredictable, the 2009 Giants' rotation needed some fortification as it entered the stretch run.

Penny came in off the scrap heap (released by Boston), swam a few laps in the fountain of youth, and dazzled for San Francisco in the final weeks. True, it didn't lead to a postseason berth, but neither did Randy Winn's offensive explosion for the 2005 team and people still talk about THAT, right?

Here, Penny has wrapped up his four-and-a-half-season Dodger stint with a giant thud. After a solid start to 2008, Penny's shoulder sent him to the DL thrice, and he was not very effective when he did take the mound from May on. Still, the veteran righty earned his 1,000th career strikeout against Colorado 4/26 (Chris Iannetta).

THIS CARD: Penny was/is a big fella with one of the most quiet motions around. Shoot, he could lull batters to sleep with that long, slow step to the plate.

There's been a few notable Dodgers who shared Penny's #31, most recently SP Max Scherzer in 2021. All-Star OF Joc Pederson wore it from 2015-20, and going further back, Hall-of-Fame C Mike Piazza donned #31 during his L.A. days.

More from Penny's 2008 season: he opened the year 5-2, 3.19...only to finish 1-7, 8.77 as he ping-ponged on and off the disabled list. Though not at his best, Penny still ate a fair amount of innings when he could, even as he lost seven of eight starts.  The 30-year-old finished the year with a pair of relief appearances.

(flip) I'm going to guess the other two repeat 16-win Dodgers 1990-2008 were Kevin Brown and Hideo Nomo. Upon research...I was right about Nomo (2002-03) but not Brown. Ramon Martinez (1990-91) was the team's other repeat 16-game winner, and I REALLY should have known that offhand.

Penny's 16 wins in 2006 tied five other dudes for the NL lead. I'll save the full list for when I pull one of their 2007 Topps cards.

Upon his 2014 retirement, Penny still boasted his best career record against Colorado (14-3, .824), which means he managed no decisions against them in his final five seasons despite ample time in the NL West. That's baseball for ya.

AFTER THIS CARD: Penny signed a 1Y/$5M deal with Boston in December 2008, but was cut at his request following a demotion to the bullpen (7-8, 5.61 in 24 starts). My Giants picked him up and he simply dazzled (4-1, 2.59 in six starts covering 41.2 innings), leading to a 1Y/$7.5M deal with St. Louis in December 2009. Penny had opened 2010 with a 3-4, 3.23 line in nine starts when he suffered a season-ending lat tear in May.

That was it for Penny as a consistently successful MLB pitcher; he went 11-11, 5.30 for the 2011 Tigers, then made forgettable returns to the Giants (22 RA, 6.11 ERA in 2012) and Marlins (6.58 ERA, 1.808 WHIP over eight games in 2014). At 37, Penny spent nearly all of the 2015 season in the AAA Charlotte (White Sox) rotation before retiring.

Brad Penny appeared annually in Topps 1998-2010, except 2000. He's also got an '04 Traded card as well as 2009-11 Update cards.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers

 
Topps Richie Lewis
Topps Richie Lewis

12/16/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps Traded #90 Richie Lewis, Marlins

More Richie Lewis Topps Cards: 1994 1995

Lewis began his MLB career as an Orioles prospect, ended his MLB career as an Orioles fringer, and in between turned in a few years of effective middle relief for the expansion Marlins and rebuilding Tigers.

Here, he's opening 1993 with the Marlins, who nabbed him with the 51st pick in the 1992 Expansion Draft. Lewis had largely been a starter—and a pretty effective one—in the minors, but Florida viewed him as a reliever, and Lewis wasn't about to argue.

THIS CARD: Lewis opened 1993 wearing #26, but then switched to #24 with IF Alex Arias taking #26 for the next five seasons. Lewis also had multiple numbers during his Detroit and Oakland stints...if only I knew why.

This COTD was not randomly selected; we chose it in memory of Lewis, who passed away on December 8, 2021 at the age of 55. No cause has been given as of yet. (We chose Lewis's 1993 Topps Traded card because I figured it'd be far more difficult to randomly select than his 1994 or 1995 Topps cards.)

Lewis gears up to throw either his fastball—described by one publication as "electric" though it probably maxed out at 90—or his big overhand curve. He also teased the occasional changeup, but was primarily a two-pitch guy by the time he reached Florida.

(flip) As you can see in the stats, Lewis did not complete a full MiLB season while with Montreal. This is because he had four arm surgeries during that time.

Lewis was a #2 pick, but in some years he'd have been a #1 pick after a record-setting career at Florida State...dude was a superstar in college.

In that MLB debut, Lewis went 4.1 innings of a six-inning makeup game...which allowed him to qualify for the win over Boston. He walked six and allowed five hits, but escaped with just three runs allowed as homer-happy Baltimore won 4-3.

AFTER THIS CARD: Through 1993 and halfway into 1994, Lewis flourished out of the Marlins bullpen, but the wall he then hit could have been on American Gladiators. Still, Lewis was able to get in 21 games for the '95 Marlins in between trips to AAA, but he was plagued by the home run ball and Florida didn't re-sign him for 1996.

Enter Detroit; Lewis was second on the 1996 Tigers with 72 appearances, and somehow third on the team with 78 K. Though he still walked way too many dudes, it was an overall quality showing for the now-30-year-old. 

However, Lewis would make just 20 more MLB appearances split between Oakland, Cincinnati and Baltimore 1997-98—in 29 innings, he walked 23 and served up 12 bombs before evidently injuring his shoulder. Back in the minors, Lewis resumed starting 1999-2001 before finishing his pro career with seven RA for AAA Edmonton (Expos) in 2003.

In 2016, Lewis appeared on Dr. Phil as he battled depression and alcoholism; former college teammate Deion Sanders showed up to help.

Richie Lewis appeared in 1993 Topps Traded and 1994-95 Topps, all as a Marlin.

CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps Traded, Florida Marlins, Now Deceased

 
Topps Arthur Rhodes
Topps Arthur Rhodes

12/17/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps #113 Arthur Rhodes, Reds

More Arthur Rhodes Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1994 1995 1997 2001 2002 2003 2004 2008U 2010U 2011U

I'll always remember the Cincinnati Reds edition of Arthur Rhodes for his role in one of the greatest Giants comebacks of my time. On 8/25/2010, the Reds pounded Madison Bumgarner and led SF 10-1 at one point. But slowly, the Giants chipped away, and by the time Rhodes entered midway through the B8th, the score was 10-8. 

Cody Ross and Mike Fontenot (thanks, BaseballReference) greeted Rhodes with singles, followed by a double down the line by Andres Torres that tied the game at 10!!! Pandemonium erupted not only at AT&T Park, but in my own household. Rhodes seemed eerily detached from the whole thing.

 

Nevermind that my Giants eventually lost 12-11 in 12 innings—that was one fantastic game.

THIS CARD: We see 40-year-old Rhodes bringing either his 90-MPH fastball (most likely) or the backdoor slider he'd attack righties with. Earlier in his career he was a harder-throwing, four-pitch guy, but Rhodes modified things over time.

Rhodes wore that #53 his entire MLB career, save for 2006 with Philadelphia (Bobby Abreu).

More from Rhodes' 2010 season: he ran up a streak of 33 straight scoreless outings in the first half, covering a team-record 30 innings. In fact, he made his first All-Star team in 2010 and entered that clash against San Francisco with a 1.31 ERA! Rhodes also got in Game 2 of the NLDS against Philadelphia, striking out Raul Ibanez on three heaters but then drilling Carlos Ruiz in the knee.

(flip) As you see, Rhodes did not pitch in 2007; UCL surgery was the reason. He had made Seattle's roster out of Spring Training despite a sore elbow, and went under the knife in April.

I could not have remembered Rhodes' Indians stint for $5M. MAYBE the Marlins stint, though.

Bret Boone, coincidentally, was a Red in 1995 Topps. He later became Rhodes' teammate on the juggernaut 2001 Mariners (and remained one through 2003).

AFTER THIS CARD: In January 2011, Rhodes signed with Texas for 1Y/$3.9M (with a vesting $4M option). But when the Rangers acquired RP Mike Adams at the deadline, Rhodes was DFA'd and eventually cut—even though he was performing decently. The 41-year-old quickly joined the Cardinals and helped them win the 2011 World Series over Texas. He then sat down after 20 seasons.

Arthur Rhodes appeared in Topps 1992-95, 1997, 2001-04, and 2011. He's also in 2008, 2010 and 2011 Topps Update as a Marlin (!) Red, and Ranger, respectively.

CATEGORIES: 2011 Topps, Cincinnati Reds

 
Topps Nelson Liriano
Topps Nelson Liriano

12/18/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #205 Nelson Liriano, Blue Jays

More Nelson Liriano Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1991 1993T

Nelson Liriano was a promising 2B prospect for the late 80's Blue Jays, but he never quite matched his MiLB production in MLB. Still, Liriano lasted over a decade in the bigs and got extensive playing time in several of those years. Nevermind that after leaving Toronto, he played for some lousy ballclubs—run is run.

Here, Liriano has just dipped his toes in the MLB pool for the first time. Called up in August 1987, the 23-year-old took over 2B from .210-hitting Garth Iorg down the stretch as Toronto unsuccessfully challenged Detroit for the AL East title. The speedster stole six bases in his first 12 MLB games!

THIS CARD: TOPPS PHOTOGRAPHER: "Nelson, can we have you do a batting pose for next year's baseball card?"

LIRIANO: "Sure. Just let me walk over to the plate area—"

PHOTOGRAPHER: "NO. Right there in the middle of the grass is fine."

LIRIANO: "???"

Not hard to figure out why Liriano chose his lefty pose. Somehow, he knew he'd end his major league career as a .268 lefty hitter versus .230 from the right side. (In fact, Liriano briefly abandoned switch-hitting in 1996.)

More from Liriano's 1987 season: from 9/13 to 9/16, the kid went 9-for-18. That included a three-hit effort on 9/14—noteworthy because Toronto clubbed a big league record 10 home runs that day! (Though he did not clear the fences himself, Liriano scored thrice.)

(flip) For some perspective, most regular second basemen average roughly one DP turned every two games (KC's Whit Merrifield led the AL with 103 in 2021; everyone else had 86 or less). Factor in the shorter season for the Carolina League (A) and Liriano was right about where he should have been with his 79 DP turned.

With the recent MiLB re-shuffling, Syracuse is probably the only one of those franchises that still exists...kind of sad in a way, even though it was somewhat necessary.

Those two home runs for the Jays in 1987 were against Oakland's Dave Leiper 8/30, and the Yankees' Al Leiter—Liriano's future Toronto teammate—9/20. Toronto won both contests.

AFTER THIS CARD: Liriano spent much of 1988 and most of 1989 as the Jays' 2B—famously spoiling two 1989 no-hitters in the 9th inning—but at the 1990 Trade Deadline he was swapped to Minnesota for P John Candelaria. From 1991-93, Liriano bounced between three organizations (KC, Cleveland, Colorado) and spent most of that period in the minors, though he did hit .305 in 48 games for the expansion 1993 Rockies.

Liriano became Colorado's regular 2B in mid-1994, then moved on to the Pirates for 1995-96. Though Liriano got in 219 games as a Pirate, most of it was as speed/defense off the bench. The Dodgers added Liriano for 1997 and used him 76 times, almost exclusively as a PH. After spending most of 1998 in the minors (87 games for AAA Colorado Springs, 12 for the Rockies), Liriano retired at 34.

From 2002 to at least 2019, Lirano coached or managed in the Royals farm system.

Nelson Liriano appeared in 1988-91 Topps, as well as 1993 Traded as a new Rockie. If you want Liriano the Pirate, turn to Fleer, Collector's Choice or Donruss.

CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays

 
Topps Paul Lo Duca
Topps Paul Lo Duca

12/19/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2002 Topps #255 Paul Lo Duca, Dodgers

More Paul Lo Duca Topps Cards: 2001T 2003 2004 2004T 2005 2006 2007 2008 

First thing coming to mind when looking back on Paul Lo Duca's decade in MLB: the infamous double-tag he executed as the Mets' catcher in the 2006 NLDS. It was sweet enough watching Dodger 2B Jeff Kent out by a mile at the plate...it was sweetness overload when Dodger OF J.D. Drew (who I disliked anyway) repeated the indignity three seconds later.

The only fault with that play: Kent got up too quickly, preventing me from proudly displaying a poster of both Dodgers sprawled out in the dirt at every place I've lived since 2006...darn.

Here, Lo Duca is a Dodger himself, one who finally put himself on the MLB map after bouncing up and down between Los Angeles and AAA Albuquerque the previous three years. The 29-year-old swing a hot bat throughout the 2001 season, enjoying a 10-game hit streak in June and a 6-for-6 performance 5/28!

THIS CARD: If Lo Duca is swinging, odds are he's putting bat on ball—during his seven years as an MLB regular, he averaged 38 K in 506 AB. And that's from a guy who didn't take many pitches, either.

Here, Topps prints Paul's name LoDuca; it was spelled correctly (with a space) on all his future Topps cards.

More from Lo Duca's 2001 season: On 6/26, he ripped four hits (including two doubles and a homer) and drove home six runs against my Giants. Future HOFers weren't safe, either—on 9/22, Lo Duca's B9th, two-run bomb against Arizona's Randy Johnson tied the game, and on 10/2 his T9th solo homer off San Diego's Trevor Hoffman put the Dodgers ahead to stay.

(flip) Lo Duca is listed as just a C, even though he started 22 times at 1B and even a couple of times in LF!

Topps just lied to you, people—Lo Duca's homer that day came in the 6th inning and did not put L.A. ahead at all. The Dodgers did win in the 11th, but on a Shawn Green single that scored Lo Duca. Inexcusable, UNLESS Topps got the story from Lo Duca himself—he's since been proven to fabricate things, as you'll read below.

Lo Duca produced those 25 homers and 90 RBI in 2001 while spending a lot of time in the leadoff spot early on. In August, he was moved to the five-hole for the rest of the season—wise, as Lo Duca drove in 22 runs in 26 September games.

AFTER THIS CARD: Lo Duca came way down to earth in 2002, but then made each of the next four All-Star teams even though A) he had failed to match his 2001 production, and B) he was moved to Florida in a shocking blockbuster trade in mid-2004. After signing a 3Y/$18M deal with Florida in January 2005, Lo Duca managed just six homers that year and had his salary dumped on the Mets in December 2005.

By 2006, it was clear 34-year-old Lo Duca would never again approach his 2001 slugging prowess, but he still helped the Mets with his .318 average and 39 doubles in 2006. Lo Duca lasted another season in New York before signing a 1Y/$5M deal with Washington for 2008. He was cut that July, however, and soon re-joined the Marlins for what would be his final 21 MLB games. (A MiLB deal with the '09 Rockies led nowhere.)

After his MLB career ended, Lo Duca found a new career as a horse racing analyst for TVG Network. He made practically no baseball headlines until longtime MLB umpire Joe West successfully sued him for provably false comments on a podcast in 2019.

Paul Lo Duca debuted in 2001 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 2002-08. He's also got a 2004 Traded card as a new Marlin.

CATEGORIES: 2002 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers

 
Topps Paul ONeill
Topps Paul O'Neill

12/21/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #546 Paul O'Neill, Yankees

More Paul O'Neill Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1993T 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 

Yes, Seinfeld fans: this is the same Paul O'Neill who—after being accosted in the Yankee clubhouse by Kramer—promised the sick kid two home runs, but had one scored as a triple and an error. (How DID Kramer get in the clubhouse, anyway???) 

For O'Neill, the 1994 AL batting champion, that 1995 Seinfeld cameo was just another step forward in a career some might describe as disappointing prior to landing in New York. While O'Neill had been a 1991 All-Star with Cincinnati, by and large his production was ordinary and he certainly was not regarded as a driving force behind their 1990 World Series win, as he would later be for four champion Yankee teams.

Here, the 30-year-old has just wrapped up Year One in pinstripes. He started 81 games in RF and another 40 in LF (if you can picture THAT today), leading the 1993 Yankees with 34 doubles and reaching 20 homers for the second time in his six full seasons. On 5/31, O'Neill belted his 100th career home run, victimizing Cleveland's Mark Clark.

THIS CARD: Not a bad front image (though O'Neill's 1995 Topps card would go down as one of the best ever by the company). On all but two of his 15 Topps card fronts, O'Neill is shown swinging the bat, leading to some mild redundancy through the years. 

O'Neill swings away at old Yankee Stadium, where he hit .325, 8, 39 in 1993. 

More from O'Neill's 1993 season: on 4/12, he missed the cycle by a homer but settled for a 4-for-4 performance and a Yankee win over Kansas City. He enjoyed a 13-game hit streak in May/June and a 14-gamer in July (that would have been 20 had O'Neill not gone 0-for-1 as a defensive replacement one night). And on 6/29, O'Neill missed the cycle by a triple, going 3-for-3 in a 10-inning win over the Tigers.

(flip) For years, I thought #21 was retired by the Yankees...but it isn't, though it's unofficially out of circulation. Excluding Giancarlo Stanton wearing it once in tribute to Roberto Clemente in 2021, the only Yankee to wear #21 since O'Neill's 2001 retirement is RP LaTroy Hawkins in 2008; he quickly switched to #22 after fan backlash. (3B Morgan Ensberg is listed on BR.com as having worn #21 in '08 as well, but he actually gave it up during Spring Training after similar fan backlash.)

O'Neill could have gunned down 102 Pittsburgh runners in the 1990 NLCS, and his most famous defensive play would still be kicking the ball back to the infield the year before. (O'Neill's Baseball Reference page actually links to the highlight!)

Evidently, O'Neill's great-grandpa wed one of Mark Twain's first cousins. Which makes him some sort of relation; it's too late at night for me to determine exactly what.

AFTER THIS CARD: A load of big moments for the 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Champion Yankees, too many to list here—though I CAN tell you O'Neill averaged .307, 21, 102 from 1994-2000. An All-Star in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1998, "The Warrior" lasted with the Yankees through 2001, and after he retired at 38 following that season, he jumped to the Yankees broadcast booth and has remained there ever since.

Paul O'Neill appeared annually in Topps 1988-2002, and in 1993 Topps Traded as a new Yankee.

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, New York Yankees

 
Topps Corey Hart
Topps Corey Hart

12/22/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #518 Corey Hart, Brewers

More Corey Hart Topps Cards: 2007 2008 2009 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

You won't believe this, but it's true: I've been on an 80's music kick for the past month or so, and literally two songs after "Sunglasses At Night" played in my living room, I randomly pull Corey Hart's 2010 Topps card.

While THAT may have been a freaky coincidence, it's no coincidence that the Brewers, who didn't make any Postseason from 1983-2007, made two Postseasons during Hart's period of stardom—he'll go down as one of THE underrated mashers of the "This Time It Counts!" era (2003-2016). He was 20-20 in consecutive years (2007-08), but here, physical problems have prevented Hart from attempting a third such campaign in 2009.

THIS CARD: How many 30-homer men went around with #1 on their jerseys? Offhand, I can't think of a single one. Other notable Brewers with #1 include SS Gary Sheffield in his early Milwaukee days, and 2B Fernando Vina in the late 1990's. Today it is retired for ex-owner Bud Selig; insert your urine joke here.

My word, I haven't thought of those old "FreeCreditReport.com" commercials in ages. HEEHAW!!!

More from Hart's 2009 season: his lone multi-homer game occurred 6/14; Hart ripped two solo shots in a loss to the White Sox. That was part of a 10-game June hit streak; Hart ended the 2009 season on an eight-game hit streak. 

(flip) Hart injured his foot with an early July foul ball. Three weeks later, his appendix was removed, costing him practically all of August. As the season drew to a close, Hart suffered two finger fractures on a dive into first base.

Since Hart's dual 20/20 seasons, Ryan Braun (four times) Carlos Gomez (2) and Christian Yelich (2) have since equaled or surpassed his feat.

I didn't really dig the old Brewers logo 2000-19, but now that it's gone I kind of miss it.

AFTER THIS CARD: Hart didn't have the best 2010 Spring Training, and opened the season in a RF platoon. Eventually he resumed regular duties, batted .283, 31, 102, made the All-Star team and signed a 3Y/$26.5M extension in August. There was little reason not to expect the 28-year-old to be a force well into the 2010's.

Hart's production dipped just a bit over the 2011-12 seasons, and he missed 2013 (his walk year) after surgery on both knees. He then signed with Seattle as a free agent (1Y/$6.5M) but only supplied a .203, 6, 21 line in 68 games; Hart missed six weeks of 2014 with a hammy strain and four more with a knee contusion.

Next, Pittsburgh hoped to catch some slugging prowess on the cheap—enter Hart for 1Y/$2.5M. But knee and shoulder injuries limited him to 35 games in 2015, none after 6/21. In fact, Hart never played another major league game again; he officially retired in 2017 as an honorary Brewer and was added to their Wall of Honor. 

 

Corey Hart appeared in 2007-15 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, Milwaukee Brewers

 
Topps Christian Guzman
Topps Christian Guzman

12/23/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #608 Cristian Guzman, Nationals

More Cristian Guzman Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2010 2010U 2011

Guzman, a 2001 All-Star and one of the game's best two-way shortstops of the 00's, needed some time to show the Washington Nationals the same player Minnesota fans saw for six seasons. Hamstring problems impacted him heavily in 2005, and shoulder surgery knocked him out of 2006. For May and June of 2007, it seemed the old Guzman had returned...but he suffered a season-ending thumb ligament tear in late June 2007.

Here, however, Guzman has (largely) avoided health issues and turned in a fantastic 2008 season for the Nationals. His 183 hits led the team by far and set a new career high, as did his 35 doubles (although many of those doubles used to be triples).

THIS CARD: This just looks like a productive swing. Guzman wasn't an easy man to retire in 2008, so it's a safe bet we're watching him deliver a knock.

Guzman wore #15 his whole career, save for a brief switch to #12 with Texas. As an original National, he was obviously the first #15 in their history and remains the most notable by several galaxies. Now-former coach Bob Henley wore the number in 2021.

More from Guzman's 2008 season: he registered a 12-game hit streak in June, went 0-for-7 in a 14-inning win over Texas 6/20, then ran off a new 14-game hit streak! (That's 26-for-27, people.) On 8/28 Guzman hit for the cycle in a blowout of the Dodgers—the first player to cycle in Washington since Vic Wertz for the 1947 Tigers, and the first Washington player to cycle at home EVER!

(flip) Bryan Little was a very, very ordinary player across five MLB seasons in the 80's, but as Mike Benjamin proved in the 1990's, ordinary players can rise up in record-setting ways sometimes.

I don't know WHY only the 2001 triples total is bold/italicized when the 2000 and 2003 totals should be as well (they were accurately done in 2008 and 2010 Topps...interesting.)

Note Guzman's 2008 K total vs. his 2000 K total, in relatively the same number of at-bats. That's how you go from a .247 hitter to a .316 hitter.

Upon retirement, Guzman's highest BAA against (12 AB) was old division rival Mike Maroth—Guzman finished up 15-for-29 (.517) against the former Tigers lefty. Strange, since Maroth didn't even place Top 6 through 2008 as you can see here.

AFTER THIS CARD: Guzman signed a 2Y/$16M extension in July 2008, and put together a quality 2009 season (.284 in 135 games), though he'd dipped across the board from '08. With young SS Ian Desmond waiting in the wings, and Guzman fresh off shoulder surgery after the 2009 season, Washington hoped to move the veteran SS over to 2B for 2010—but he was not down with the idea and  opened his walk year on the Nationals bench.

Ultimately, Guzman was traded to the Rangers for two prospects—one of whom, SP Tanner Roark, gave the Nats several good seasons. Guzman, meanwhile, sat out the '11 season, failed to win a job with the '12 Indians, and simply faded away.

Cristian Guzman appeared annually in Topps 2000-2011, and in 2010 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Washington Nationals, Quirks

 
Topps Sandy Alomar, Jr.
Topps Sandy Alomar, Jr.

12/25/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #155 Sandy Alomar Jr., Indians

More Sandy Alomar Jr. Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1990T 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001 2001T 2002 2002T 2003 2006U

If he were blessed with the durability of peers such as Pudge Rodriguez or Terry Steinbach, Sandy Alomar Jr. might have started all those All-Star Games that they did.

Okay, that may have been a slight stretch, but Alomar would surely have made a few more Midsummer Classics over the years. While not quite on Rodriguez's level overall, Alomar—when healthy—wasn't too far behind him defensively, and his bat could be potent in stretches. The problem was that during his prime, Alomar was more fragile than emotionally damaged eggs.

From 1991-95, Alomar averaged just 70 games per year, as one serious injury after another sent him to the disabled list for extended stretches. In the late 1990's, he finally strung together some healthy campaigns, making an already strong Cleveland club all the more better. Alomar's 1997 season goes down as one of the great individual "dream" years of my fandom—it would easily rank first IF the Indians put away the Marlins in the World Series.

Here, 33-year-old Alomar has just wrapped his 10th season with Cleveland. On the bright side, the Indians repeated as division champions in 1999 and Alomar's brother Roberto was a teammate for the first time since 1989. Still, the season was a near total washout for Sandy due to his seventh career knee surgery. He was out from 5/11 through 9/6.

THIS CARD: Put this card and Alomar's 1998 Topps card side by side—the designs are very similar and the pics don't differ all that much, either. If not for the fans, one could argue the pics are from the same at-bat. It should be said Alomar received SEVERAL terrific, distinguishable Topps front images through the years. But the ball was dropped here.

Alomar never looked 6'5", 215 lbs. on any of his Topps photos, but make no mistake: he was a large man, not one you'd enjoy trying to topple at home plate.

For some reason, when we picked this card, I was CONVINCED we'd profiled an Alomar Topps card at least once before. But repeated attempts to confirm that came up empty, and it was driving me nuts until I realized earlier this year, we'd profiled a 1998 Topps World Series card centered around the All-Star receiver.

(flip) Alomar was an All-Star starter 1990-92, and reserve 1996-98. Despite his many maladies, he was able to actually play in all six Classics!

"Sudden" Sam McDowell, a big, hard-throwing lefty starter, was routinely among the league leaders in walks and strikeouts during his Cleveland days, but he enjoyed some fine years including 1965 (when he won the AL ERA crown) and 1970 (when he won 20 games and finished third in AL Cy Young voting). There is certainly more to McDowell's story; it's worth looking up.

I never realized Alomar was THAT stingy with his strikeouts, averaging 10+ AB for every K (through at least 1999) as shown in the stats. There's almost no 6'5" catchers to begin with, and even fewer that made consistent contact like Alomar. What could he have done with good health...grrrr.

AFTER THIS CARD: Alomar missed three weeks of 2000 with a hamstring injury, and also ceded some run to young Einar Diaz. Cleveland opted not to re-sign Alomar for 2001, and he joined the White Sox (2Y/$5.4M) that December.

From there, Alomar's career took a strange route that saw him spend all or part of five seasons with the White Sox...while still changing teams six times through 2007. Largely a backup from 2001 on, Alomar also suited up for the 2002 Rockies, 2005 Rangers, 2006 Dodgers and 2007 Mets when essentially on loan from Chicago. 

After he finished playing, Alomar naturally turned to coaching, spending two years as a catching instructor in the Mets system before rejoining Cleveland as first base coach. He was "elevated" to bench coach for 2012, then served as interim manager when Manny Acta was canned with a week left in the season.
Alomar also filled in for the infirm Terry Francona as Indians' manager for most of 2020. (Cleveland, 28-18 under Alomar during the season, was swept out of the Wild Card series by the Yankees.)

Sandy Alomar, Jr. appeared annually in Topps 1989-2003 and also has 1990, 2001 and 2002 Traded Cards as well as a 2006 Update card. (2002 Traded depicts Alomar as a new Rockie, and few players have ever looked more "off" in an unfamiliar uniform.)

CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Cleveland Indians

 
Topps Yu Darvish
Topps Zelous Wheeler

12/26/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps Update #250 Checklist

More 2014 Topps Update Checklists: n/a

These days, Topps Update sets no longer include any dudes moved at/near that year's Trade Deadline—at least, not in their newest uniform, COUGH 2021 Tony Watson COUGH—but in the mid 2010's you could still watch, say, Jake Peavy get traded to the Giants in July and pick up his Update card as a Giant in October.

I'm not positive why the Update sets aren't as up-to-date as they once were; perhaps it's because Topps Now is a thing. The ability to acquire cards of newly-traded players within days via Topps Now might have quashed the primary appeal of Topps Update. The company probably figures collectors, with Topps Now available, don't anticipate the Update releases like they once might have.

And because of that, recent Update releases aren't all that updated at all by the time they hit the shelves—even with release dates pushed back to mid-October each of the last two years.

But here in 2014 Update, collectors can scratch their Peavy, Lester, Cespedes, etc. itches rather quickly.

THIS CARD: In 2012-19 Update, checklists and various season highlights shared a card. Darvish, who joined MLB from Japan in 2012, racked up 498 K through his first two seasons as a Texas Ranger. Then on 4/6/14, Darvish got Rays OF Wil Myers swinging for the record 500th K. I don't know if the record qualifier is games or innings, but it's impressive either way.

Now that I look closely and recognize Tropicana Field, this is probably Darvish from that very at-bat with Myers.

(flip) I really wish Topps checklists added "AS" or something next to All-Stars. For a minute I was trippin', thinking Chris Sale went from Chicago to Boston way back in 2014 when I KNEW that wasn't true.

Surprisingly, I know everyone from this Checklist (even Zelous Wheeler), which is not a given from 2008-16 Topps sets. Yes, that's the same Bolsinger who sued the Astros. Yes, that's the same Martinez who flamed out of MLB, went overseas, and got 4Y/$20M from the Padres a few weeks ago. 

Casilla (of my Giants) is featured in this set for no reason; he was in the base set and had not swapped teams.

CATEGORIES: 2014 Topps Update, Checklists

 
Topps Jason Isringhausen
Topps Jason Isringhausen

12/27/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #317 Jason Isringhausen, Mets

More Jason Isringhausen Topps Cards: 1995 1996 2001 2002 2002T 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2011U 2012 2012U 2013

Here, we return to the "Generation K" era (1995-96) of the oft-doomed-but-never-dull New York Mets. You remember the storyline: the embattled franchise would return to glory behind the prized arms of young starters Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen and Paul Wilson.

 

In short, none of the three came within a Vince Coleman firecracker toss of justifying the hype (Isringhausen started 52 games for the Mets, Wilson 26 and Pulsipher 17), but at least Isringhausen enjoyed a lengthy, productive career for other clubs.

Here, the big curveballer has completed a 1996 season lined with the speed bumps absent from his standout 1995 rookie season. Still, he remained in the Mets rotation all year save for an August DL stint.

THIS CARD: This is Isringhausen's second appearance in Topps Card Of The Day; we profiled his 1996 Topps card back in May of 2021. And as we pointed out at that time...

...this card's front image is WAAAAY too similar, almost identical, to Isringhausen's 1996 Topps front image. Right down to (what I suspect is) the curveball grip. His 2003-04 Topps front images also failed the redundancy check, I should add.

More from Isringhausen's 1996 season: he took plenty of lumps in '96, but there were high points as well. Such as 5/1 when he fired eight shutout innings at the Expos, or his 10-K shutout of the Marlins on 6/9. Isringhausen was 3-7, 3.58 in his 13 starts to that point of the season, but only 3-7, 6.02 in 14 starts afterward.

(flip) We detailed the colorful history of #44 in Mets history on Isringhausen's previous COTD, so I won't rehash it here. But it's strange how I think of Jason Bay ahead of Isringhausen when I see that #44 Mets warmup. Isringhausen had it sooner and longer.

Topps refers to Isringhausen as "Izzy" in the blurb, but I just can't bring myself to do it. It seems too personal considering I've never met the guy or even attended a game he played in.

Isringhausen's off-season surgery? Bone chips were removed from his pitching elbow and a slight labrum tear was repaired. He was, in fact, not ready by Spring and opened the season on a rehab assignment—during which this foolishness occurred.

AFTER THIS CARD: Isringhausen, waylaid by the above incident and tuberculosis for most of 1997, lost the entire 1998 season to UCL surgery. He returned as a reliever, was traded to Oakland in 1999, and blossomed into an All-Star closer in 2000.

 

St. Louis imported the free agent for 4Y/$27M in December 2001 (followed by a 3Y/$25.75 extension in February 2005). He responded with six mostly-excellent seasons, including their championship year of 2006, before slipping badly in 2008. Isringhausen underwent another UCL surgery that year, made nine appearances for the 2009 Rays, then had his UCL surgically repaired for the third time.

Out all of 2010, the 38-year-old dusted off his old Mets uniform for 2011, making 53 appearances in a setup role. Isringhausen then won a job with the 2012 Angels; there, he pitched his final 50 big league games and followed through on retirement chatter.
Once an injury-plagued bust, Isringhausen persevered through his many setbacks to save exactly 300 games, win a World Series, pitch to age 40 and earn upwards of $56M on the field.

Jason Isringhausen appeared in 1995-97 Topps, took a three-set hiatus, then returned for the 2001-09 and 2012-13 Topps sets. He's also got a 2002 Traded card as a new Cardinal, and 2011-12 Update cards.

CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, New York Mets

 
Topps Nathan Eovaldi
Topps Nathan Eovaldi

12/29/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps #261 Nathan Eovaldi, Yankees

More Nate/Nathan Eovaldi Topps Cards: 2012 2012U 2013 2014 2015 2015U 2016 2018U 2019U 2020 2021

Until recently, you never knew QUITE which version of Nathan Eovaldi was at your disposal, but when he is on—as he's been for the past two seasons—there aren't many better right-handers in the American League. I'll forever remember him for his gutty six-inning relief effort in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series, and for continuing to remind me of the great ex-Giant Dave Burba with his burly body and no-nonsense approach.

Here, Eovaldi has completed his second season with the New York Yankees; it began well enough, but by August he was on the operating table (UCL). Among the Yanks' primary five starters, Eovaldi's 1.307 WHIP was second to Masahiro Tanaka (by a lot, but still.)

THIS CARD: While not a carbon copy, this front image is a tad too similar to Eovaldi's 2016 Topps front image (profiled in COTD back in June 2020). If you're going to use a pic from the same angle as the previous season, it needs to radically differ from the previous pic. Even Eovaldi simply coming to the set position would have been acceptable.

The sleeve patch is in memory, obviously, of Yogi Berra. The Hall-of-Fame Yankees catcher passed away 9/22/2015 at age 90; it does not seem like he has been gone nearly that long.

More from Eovaldi's 2016 season: he began the year 6-2, 3.71, and enjoyed a five-start win streak in May. But then he went 0-4, 9.20 in his next six starts and was bumped to the bullpen for a time. Eovaldi returned to the rotation 7/19 and put up four strong starts in a row before leaving his 8/10 start with right elbow discomfort; he didn't pitch again until 5/30/2018.

(flip) There exists at least two Instagram and one Twitter page in Eovaldi's name, but none of them are authenticated or authentic-looking. Furthermore, the pages have FAR few followers than the real Eovaldi would.

Eovaldi did indeed miss the entire 2017 season. But even with his rebuilt elbow, he's still reaching triple-digits with the fastball at age 31 in 2021.

That Trade With Marlins sent RP David Phelps and IF Martin Prado south; 1B/OF Garrett Jones and then-prospect Domingo German joined Eovaldi on the trip north. New York wanted to get a tad younger and cheaper—Prado was high-salaried and aging—while adding a starting pitcher. Miami had rotation depth at the time but needed to replace the departed Casey McGehee at 3B.

AFTER THIS CARD: Released by the Yankees in November 2016, the Rays snapped Eovaldi up three months later and patiently waited for his arm to recover. In his return 5/30/2018, he fired six no-hit innings at Oakland! Near the Deadline, Tampa flipped Eovaldi to Boston, whom he helped to a championship with those WS Game 3 heroics plus two other Postseason wins. 

Rewarded by the Sox with a 4Y/$68M deal, Eovaldi struggled badly in 2019, but has rebounded to go 15-11, 3.74 in 41 starts from 2020-21. In fact, 2021 saw the veteran make his first All-Star team and place 4th in AL Cy Young voting!

Nathan Eovaldi has appeared in 2012-17 and 2020-21 Topps. He's also got 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2019 Update cards.

CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps, New York Yankees

 
Topps Carlos Gomez
Topps Carlos Gomez

12/30/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #340 Carlos Gomez, Brewers

More Carlos Gomez Topps Cards: 2007U 2008U 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015U 2016 2017 2018 2018U

Though he carried himself like one, Carlos Gomez wasn't a superstar. He WAS, however, a damn good player and easily one of the most talented all-round players in the bigs during his (relatively brief) heyday. Gomez could beat you in a variety of ways, and when he did, he made sure the whole ballpark knew exactly how he felt about it. 

Needless to say, Gomez's emotional bursts got him in hot water with the opposition more than once (this clash with the Braves stands out in particular).But in hindsight, you could describe him as a pioneer of sorts for the "let the kids play" era of MLB we're currently in—the one where MLB itself openly encourages players to spit on many of the old unwritten rules of yesteryear.

 

Pimp your homers. Strut around the bases. Flip your bat on bloop singles. Scream like a banshee whenever anything good happens. Carlos Gomez did it all well before it was vogue.

THIS CARD: What?! Carlos Gomez is excited and animated about something on the diamond? This doesn't happen every day! (Just every other day.) Upon checking GettyImages, it turns out this image is Gomez after homering against the host Dodgers 8/17/2014. Good job, Carlos—especially since it contributed to a 7-2 win. (Gomez scored three runs that day.)

I associate the uniform #27 with Carlos Gomez more than even Mike Trout. It just FIT him for reasons I cannot articulate. (For a time in the late 2010's, it seemed Gomez was on his way to playing for 27 clubs, but then he retired. Much to my shock—Gomez didn't strike me as the ty